REVIEW: Freedom’s Price: Colonial America Frontier Historical Romance by Jenna Kernan
Gritty, sweeping tale of love, resilience and tenacity in the New World wilds of Virginia.
To survive on his newly cleared land outside Jamestown, Thomas Deed needs a field hand, not a wet-nurse. But instead of doing the rational thing, he fulfils a deathbed promise to protect his sister’s son, borrowing against his land to acquire a woman to care for the babe. Mary Price surprises him, adapting to her harsh surroundings and quickly becoming a godsend.
Newly arrived mother, Mary Price, must stay with Deed during the term of her service or lose all hope of reunion with her sister. She vows to work so hard that he will never give her up but succeeds in ways she never expected. As they struggle against the wilderness, his spirit to protect and provide for her and the babes stirs her to unrealized desire and makes her long to stay at his side.
But when fate tests them both, will Deed give her up or find a way to keep her for a lifetime?
Dear Ms. Kernan,
Years ago, Jane wrote a post to try and drum up support for contemporary novels which at the time were suffering in comparison to historicals. Now I feel as if we need to do a reverse post to increase demand for unusual historical settings. When I read that you’d written this book in an effort to prove that readers want something besides the “same old” Regency era, I hurried to get my hands on a copy. Now having finished it, I am pleading for a sequel.
Not only is this an American historical but one from the early days of Jamestown in the Virginia Colony. Yippee! It also doesn’t shy away from the facts and reality of life then. Mary arrives in Jamestown from Bristol along with her sister, Jane, and daughter, Anne. Now they are to be sold as indentured servants.. To Mary’s horror, the promises that she thought were made to her that she and Jane would be sold together and only for four years turn out to be lies. Not being able to read, she had signed on for passage to the Virginia Colony and now finds herself about to be bought, along with her daughter, but alone for a term of seven years.
Thomas Deeds is deaf to her pleas to buy Jane but he has a reason. Mary soon learns why Thomas specifically bought her. His beloved sister has died in child-bed leaving her newborn son and Thomas with a promise to look after him. As Thomas is deep in debt trying to begin working on the land he gained after his own indenture ended, he had planned to buy a man to help him bring in his first crop of tobacco. Now he’s out the price of a wet nurse to keep alive the baby that cost his beloved sister her life. His plan to sell Mary after baby James is weaned terrifies her as if that happens, neither she nor Jane will know where the other can be found. Mary vows to make herself indispensable but soon discovers she had no idea how hard life would be in this New World.
I won’t go into details about the many trials that await Mary and Thomas as that is part of what kept me glued to the book. After having read what they do in an average day, I can categorically state that there’s no way I could have survived the workload or life in 17th Virginia. Holy heck. Literally hacking a living out of a wilderness that seems determined to kill you is one way of putting it. My respect for the hardiness of my ancestors (who were in America by that point) rose by leaps and bounds. Yes, give me my modern house, grocery stores, car, and conveniences.
Salamander was a fun addition to the story and shows how dependent the colonists weree upon the Native Americans for survival. I would have loved to have seen more of her but appreciated the realism of how it took Mary a little while to get over her fear of “savages.” Mary’s encounter with a possum (“It’s a huge white rat!”) was similar to what a friend described to me once. At one point I did wonder just how many more trials and tribulations Mary and Thomas would have to overcome.
The story ends in a way I didn’t see coming but I admire how Thomas and Mary both managed to turn things about when I thought they’d been backed into a corner from which there was no escape. Kudos for working into the plot the circumstances and constraints that people of the time faced. This isn’t a book with a mere nod to wallpaper history but one that centers on what could have really happened and features characters with 17th century ideas and outlooks. Let me repeat my plea for a follow up as now I want to know what happens to Jane as well as see Thomas and Mary’s future. B